Tracking: is remarketing profitable?
I mentioned yesterday about my client who’s Google remarketing conversions dried up when they turned off their Facebook ads.
Why exactly is that?
By running ads on multiple platforms you create interdependence between different traffic sources. You can no longer isolate and compare the performance of LinkedIn, Google Display and Facebook, because to varying degrees each influences the others.
It’s a mistake to look at your conversion numbers and think: “hmm… $12 per conversion on Facebook… $4 per conversion on Google Display… let’s switch off Facebook.” In all likelihood your Facebook ads are contributing to your Google Ads conversions.
Google have understood this for a while, which is why in your Google Ads columns there’s a column called ‘Assisted Conversions’. An assisted conversion is where somebody sees your Google Display ad (likely a remarketing ad), but then converts later on through a keyword-targeted search ad. A cynical mind might argue that Google are attempting to justify the value of their display network clicks. But in my experience assisted conversions are more common than you might think.
When you start tying together multiple media, the number of assisted conversions goes haywire. People see you in multiple places and every conversion usually comes with a handful of assisted conversions. The whole picture is greater and more complex than the isolated sum of the parts.
The problem is you can’t measure this natively within any one platform. The ‘Assisted Conversions’ column in Google Ads won’t tell you how many people saw a Google ad and converted later on Facebook. Or vice versa.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t attempt to measure performance across all your platforms. It just helps to understand that all conversion figures are approximate and only a representation of the real situation. You’re simply trying to gather enough data to make sensible and mostly correct decisions.
The free way to do this is with Google Analytics. If you make sure that all your ads are tracked with Google Analytics tracking code (sometimes called ‘UTM variables’), Google Analytics can start to build a more complete picture of your remarketing effectiveness.
The paid way to do this is with something like Wicked Reports. Wicked Reports picks up the same UTM variables as Google Analytics (so you can use both), but when a sale happens it pieces together a more complete picture of the customer’s journey. You can also pull in revenue information from your payment processor to generate an approximate return on ad spend.
The big mistake people make when tracking remarketing performance is attempting to figure out exactly what is going on. The complete picture is more complex than you think. In your analytics systems you only need enough information to make better decisions. Attempting to give exact credit to different media will drive you mad.
Once configured properly, Google Analytics is fine as a mechanism for better overall decision making. For extra detail, Wicked Reports will pull back the curtain of mystery a little more. If you’re spending decent money on ads then one or two extra insights a month will justify the investment.